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> Description 
The Tonight Show has been through a lot of changes over the years. It has been called, Tonight, Tonight! America After Dark, The Jack Parr Show, The Tonight Show, The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

The Tonight Show is NBC's long-running late-night talk and variety show, currently hosted by Jay Leno in Burbank, CA (near Los Angeles). The hour-long show premiered September 27, 1954 in a 90-minute format hosted by Steve Allen. The show features at least two guests each night, usually including a comedian or musical guest.

Now in its 51st year (though its roots date back to a local New York program called Broadway Open House in the early 1950s), The Tonight Show is the second longest-running entertainment program in US television history (after the soap opera Guiding Light).

While NBC executive Pat Weaver is credited as Tonight's creator (he created its earlier morning companion, The Today Show), Allen had already created much of the structure of Tonight with his local New York late-night show, which premiered in 1953 on what is now WNBC-TV.

During Johnny Carson's 30-year run as the host of the program, his name was synonymous with The Tonight Show.

Tonight became the first U.S. TV show to broadcast with MTS stereo sound in 1984. On April 26, 1999, Tonight started broadcasting in 1080i HDTV, becoming the first U.S. nightly talk show shot in HD. The show is shot in 16:9 aspect ratio with a 4:3 center-cut for standard definition TV viewers.

A kinescope exists of the very first broadcast of The Tonight Show (then called simply, Tonight), and Steve Allen welcomed viewers with the warning, "This show is going to last forever." He has yet to be proven wrong.

During the later Steve Allen years, regular audience member Ms. Miller became such an integral part, she was forced to join AFTRA the television/radio performers union. Allen's original announcer was Gene Rayburn, who went on to greater fame as host of Match Game.

Music is provided by The Tonight Show Band, led since 1995 by Kevin Eubanks (no relation to Bob Eubanks of The Newlywed Game fame), who replaced Leno's original musical director, Branford Marsalis. In 2004, the long-time announcer Edd Hall was replaced by John Melendez, who started out on The "Howard Stern Show".

Skitch Henderson was the band leader during the Steve Allen and early Carson years, followed briefly by Milton DeLugg. Jose Melis led the band for Jack Paar. For most of Johnny Carson's run on the show, The Tonight Show Band was led by Doc Severinsen and the show's announcer was Ed McMahon. By the end of the Carson years, Severinsen had become the primary substitute announcer when McMahon was absent. When Severinsen was absent or filling in for McMahon, Tommy Newsom would lead the band.

In 1986 Johnny Carson's guest host Joan Rivers jumped ship and abruptly left The Tonight Show for her own show on the new Fox Network. This move infuriated Carson so much that he permanently banned Rivers from The Tonight Show. Unfortunately for Joan Rivers, her new show flopped and was immediately cancelled, and when she tried to call Johnny Carson he refused to speak to her. In an interview on CNN the day Carson died, Rivers revealed that Carson never spoke to her again.

The show's full name is currently The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. During the Carson years, it was known as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

On September 27, 2004, the 50th anniversary of the show's premiere, NBC announced that Jay Leno will be succeeded by Conan O'Brien in 2009. Leno explained that he did not want to see a repeat of the hard feelings and controversy that occurred when he was given the show following Carson's retirement instead of David Letterman.

The death of Carson on January 23, 2005, made Jay Leno the last surviving host of The Tonight Show.

Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
 
> Airing History & Information 
Premiere September 27, 1954
Episodes
Network NBC
Format/Time Color / 60 Minutes
Country United States
Upcoming Airs Not currently airing
 
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Carson's Late-Night Desk up for Auction
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